From Ed to Tech: How I Prepared for a Career in Web Development While Teaching Full-Time

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From Ed to Tech: How I Prepared for a Career in Web Development While Teaching Full-Time

Coding bootcamp enrollment has exploded, seeing a tenfold increase since 2013. With over 20,000 graduates in 2018 alone, coding bootcamps are continuing to see record growth. Why? According to Course Report, a majority of bootcamp grads have found new jobs in under 3 months and have seen a pay bump of $21,000. With an average price tag of $11,900 and roughly 3-4 months of coursework, it’s easy to see why bootcamps are an increasingly popular alternative to undergraduate and graduate degrees.

Back in my day, bootcamps weren’t a thing. I attended a 4 year university, served with a volunteer program for a year after graduating (turns out a B.A. in History isn’t crazy marketable), and moved to Austin to begin a career in education. I was fortunate to find a position at a great school and felt excited about making a difference in the lives of underserved students.

Despite the challenges faced while managing the emotions of 10-13 year olds and balancing the demands of a high-performing school, I loved teaching. Seeing the a-ha moments, building meaningful relationships, watching students grow and gain confidence - all of it left me feeling fulfilled with a strong sense of purpose and pride.

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As I added to my teaching toolbelt and continued to grow as an educator, I found my students doing much more of the heavy lifting. Guiding them through presentations and research projects was awe-inspiring. And yet, I was left feeling ready for a new challenge. I could level up to administration, taking on the added responsibilities and increased salary of an assistant principal or similar role, but I wasn’t confident it would be a great fit. Coupled with the low financial ceiling of teaching and my lack of enthusiasm around becoming an administrator, I began to explore other options.

I reached out to a buddy of mine who I knew had recently decided to transition into tech. He had bounced around between a few different jobs, never really finding a position worth sticking with for more than a year or so. Then came Galvanize. He decided to pursue their software engineering program and had an exceptional experience. He was able to secure a job within a few weeks after graduating (according to Course Report*, most grads find their first developer job in 1-6 months) and has been a full-time developer ever since.

After hearing his story, I started to research bootcamps around Austin. I had taught a coding elective through Code.org before, but didn’t have much experience writing actual code. I knew I needed to find a program that I could afford on a teacher’s salary that would also allow me to continue teaching full-time. Thankfully, Austin has a variety of options for people learning to code.

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I came across Austin Coding Academy’s Full-Stack JavaScript program which offered classes twice per week, had an affordable tuition, and received lots of favorable feedback online. In just 10 weeks I went from turning a page blue with CSS to writing my first full-fledged app with JavaScript -- and that was just the intro course! As the program continued, I learned how to build a single page application in React, how to fetch data from an API, how to maintain version control with git, and loads more. A career in web development began to seem much more realistic.

Teaching left me worn out at the end of each day. The fact that I was still driven to build apps and continue growing as a developer after school and on weekends confirmed that I was ready to make the transition from education to tech. As spring rolled in, I started to get serious about applying for jobs.

Navigating a career change after spending 8 years in one field was quite a bit more challenging than I’d anticipated. Imposter syndrome is no joke. I got a handful of interviews, but for the most part it was either a “Thanks, but no thanks” email, or an offer from a company where I wasn’t too excited about the position or mission of the organization. Then came Skills Fund.

I saw an opening for a Content and Web Developer position at Skills Fund and decided to apply. I did some research and realized the company’s mission was exactly what I was looking for. Skills Fund works to provide access to coding bootcamps through tuition and cost of living financing. Since bootcamps don’t take traditional student loans, most aspiring developers typically had the choice between paying with a credit card, taking out a personal loan, or simply not attending the program. Having graduated from a bootcamp myself, Skills Fund looked like the perfect opportunity to help prospective students in the position that I found myself in just a year and a half ago.

After a few weeks and a handful of interviews for web development roles, I was offered a position at Skills Fund. I feel extremely grateful to be part of such a mission-driven organization, helping people make the transition into tech.

I’d love to hear about your journey! Looking to change careers? Thinking about a bootcamp? Drop a comment below or email me at chris@skills.fund.

*1 https://www.coursereport.com/reports/coding-bootcamp-job-placement-2018

*2 https://www.coursereport.com/reports/2018-coding-bootcamp-market-size-research

Originally Published 7/29/2019